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Antarctic ice melting faster than ever: #auspol #qldpol #StopAdani #ClimateChange

Antarctic ice melting faster than ever, studies show

Rate of melt has accelerated threefold in last five years and could contribute 25cm to sea-level rises without urgent action

Matthew TaylorThu 14 Jun 2018 03.00 AEST

Ice in the Antarctic is melting at a record-breaking rate and the subsequent sea rises could have catastrophic consequences for cities around the world, according to two new studies.

A report led by scientists in the UK and US found the rate of melting from the Antarctic ice sheet has accelerated threefold in the last five years and is now vanishing faster than at any previously recorded time.

A separate study warns that unless urgent action is taken in the next decade the melting ice could contribute more than 25cm to a total global sea level rise of more than a metre by 2070. This could lead eventually to the collapse of the entire west Antarctic ice sheet, and around 3.5m of sea-level rise.

Prof Andrew Shepherd, from Leeds University and a lead author of the study on accelerating ice loss, said: “We have long suspected that changes in Earth’s climate will affect the polar ice sheets. Thanks to our satellites our space agencies have launched, we can now track their ice losses and global sea level contribution with confidence.”

He said the rate of melting was “surprising.”

“This has to be a cause for concern for the governments we trust to protect our coastal cities and communities,” Shepherd added.

The study, published in Nature, involved 84 scientists from 44 international organisations and claims to be the most comprehensive account of the Antarctic ice sheet to date. It shows that before 2012, the Antarctic lost ice at a steady rate of 76bn tonnes per year – a 0.2mm per year contribution to sea-level rise. However since then there has been a sharp increase, resulting in the loss of 219bn tonnes of ice per year – a 0.6mm per year sea-level contribution.

The second study, also published in Nature, warns that time is running out to save the Antarctic and its unique ecosystem – with potentially dire consequences for the world.

The scientists assessed the probable state of Antarctica in 2070 under two scenarios. The first in which urgent action on greenhouse gas emissions and environmental protection is taken in the next few years, the second if emissions continue to rise unabated and the Antarctic is exploited for its natural resources.

The scenario which plays out largely depends on choices made over the next decade, on both climate-change and on environmental regulation, they conclude.

Co-author Profe Martin Siegert, from the Grantham Institute, said: “Some of the changes Antarctica will face are already irreversible, such as the loss of some ice shelves, but there is a lot we can prevent or reverse.

“To avoid the worst impacts, we will need strong international cooperation and effective regulation backed by rigorous science. This will rely on governments recognising that Antarctica is intimately coupled to the rest of the Earth system, and damage there will cause problems everywhere.”

As well as being a major cause of sea-level rise, scientists say the oceans around Antarctica are a key “carbon sink” – absorbing huge amounts of greenhouse gases helping to mitigate the impacts of climate change.

Siegert said: “If the political landscape of a future Antarctica is more concerned with rivalry, and how each country can get the most out of the continent and its oceans, then all protections could be overturned.

“However, if we recognise the importance of Antarctica in the global environment, then there is the potential for international co-operation that uses evidence to enact changes that avoid ‘tipping points’ – boundaries that once crossed, would cause runaway change, such as the collapse of the west Antarctic ice sheet.”

Greenpeace which is campaigning for a large tract of the ocean surrounding the Antarctic to be made into the world’s biggest ocean sanctuary, said government’s must heed the warning.

Louisa Casson, of Greenpeace UK’s Protect the Antarctic campaign, said: “Governments can take a historic step forward in October this year if they decide to create an Antarctic Ocean Sanctuary, protecting 1.8 million square kilometres in what would be the largest protected area on Earth.

“Ocean sanctuaries create havens for marine life to build resilience to a changing ocean, but also crucially help us avoid the worst effects of climate change, by preserving healthy ocean ecosystems that play a vital role storing carbon.”

Press link for more: The Guardian

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It’s cheaper to reduce global warming than to adapt to it. #ClimateChange #auspol #qldpol #StopAdani

Nature study shows it’s cheaper to reduce global warming than to adapt to it.

Mercedes-Benz SL-Class stalls in Maryland flash flood

One of the main objections that critics of global warming mitigation measures often cite is that they cost too much.

A new study in the journal Nature takes issue with that conclusion.

Several studies since 1991 have concluded that it is cheaper to develop new technologies to mitigate climate change than it will be to adapt to it. What those studies weren’t able to do was estimate the amount of the savings.

CHECK OUT: Most-accurate climate-change models suggest worst effects on global weather

Now a new study in the journal Nature, published last month, has put a price tag on it. The study concludes that it will cost about $20 trillion less to work toward mitigating global warming ahead of time—for example, by providing incentives to sell electric cars and solar installations—than it will to adapt to the effects of global warming later.

Like other studies that came before it, the Nature study uses gross domestic product to measure both the costs of mitigating global warming and the cost of adapting to it.

The study modeled the impact of historical temperature changes on GDP in 165 countries from 1960 to 2010, and extrapolated the results out to 2100, and found that the more temperature changes can be limited, the greater the economic benefits will be.

Global carbon dioxide emissions, 1850-2030 [CO2 Information Analysis Center, World Energy Outlook]

The $20 trillion figure is the difference in cost between limiting global temperatures increases to 1.5 degrees Celsius instead of 2 degrees. The cost is a little more than one year of U.S. GDP, or a little more than a quarter of the world’s annual GDP.

The study estimates that 71 percent of countries—those which contain 90 percent of the world’s population—are likely to be better off economically by mitigating climate change than by having to adapt to it. Those countries generally are poorer than those that would have lower benefits.

At current projections of global warming, based on existing national commitments to mitigation efforts, the study’s authors find that GDP would fall 15 to 25 percent in real (2010) dollars by 2100, if global temperatures were allowed to rise 2 degrees Celsius.

DON’T MISS: Clean energy won’t happen, climate change will be bad: a contrarian perspective

“My gut feeling is that our numbers—as large as they are—could even be a lower bound on the overall damages,” said Marshall Burke, a climate scientist at Stanford, and the study’s main author.

GDP does not account for so-called “external” economic effects such as the health costs of air pollution from burning fossil fuels, so the savings from mitigating global warming could be even higher.

READ THIS: Is ‘Drawdown’ the climate-change action map the world needs?

Among the new assumptions in the study are that adverse weather effects from global warming, such as flooding, don’t just affect the economy in a given year. Their effects linger and push down GDP for years afterward. Storms such as Hurricanes Andrew, Irma, and Katrina exemplify how major weather events magnified by global warming can have long-lasting effects on the economy.

In a counterpoint to the article other researchers note that savings from increasing energy efficiency and expansion of renewables is also not baked into the GDP numbers. Whether those are attributable to mitigation or adaptation might be a question open to debate.

Press link for more: Green Car Report

#ParisAgreement #ClimateChange Strategy #auspol #qldpol #StopAdani

The Paris Agreement, a Strategy for the Longer Term

Patricia Espinosa

Executive Secretary, United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change

With the adoption of the UNFCCC, governments across the world set the long-term objective of stabilizing “greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system.

The adoption of this objective has been a fundamental guide for the intergovernmental process and its Parties in the fight to address climate change.

Efforts to operationalize this objective have delivered important milestones, such as the Kyoto Protocol and more recently the Paris Agreement. Through these, governments agreed on concrete actions and time frames to reduce emissions and adapt to the impacts of climate change. They also agreed to cooperate on finance, technology, and capacity building with a view to increase efforts over time.

The Paris Agreement and its swift entry into force represent a bold statement of the determination of the international community under the United Nations to transform the global economy so as to limit the impact that our power generation, production methods, agriculture, and consumption patterns have on the climate system. The Agreement is in itself a global strategy for the longer term that is defined by the three aims enshrined in its Article:

• First, limit the average global temperature rise to well below 2°C above preindustrial levels and pursue efforts to limit this increase to 1.5°C.

• Second, increase the ability to adapt to the adverse effects of climate change and foster climate-resilient and low greenhouse gas emissions development, in a manner that does not threaten food production.

• Third, make financial flows consistent with a pathway toward low greenhouse gas emissions and climate-resilient development.

These three aims provide a single and clear direction of travel to state and nonstate actors for the longer term, given the link between economic activity, greenhouse gas emissions, and the impacts of climate change. According to the latest available science, achieving the long-term temperature goal would require global greenhouse gas emissions to peak by 2020 and subsequently be reduced to zero before the end of the century. To limit warming to 1.5°C, this reduction to zero must take place around 2050.

The temperature goal reflects, above all, a vision of the type of society we want for the future.

It represents an aim to design our economic system so that improving our quality of life is not hindered by the negative impacts on our climate. In the light of science, this vision implies a major transformation.

It compels us to rethink the way we produce, use, and consume energy; how we manufacture and build; and how we manage our land and ecosystems.

If global net greenhouse gas emissions are to reach zero at some point before the end of this century, we need to ensure that our energy and production systems become neutral in terms of greenhouse gas emissions so that there is at least a balance between human-generated greenhouse gas emissions and removals of emissions from our land and through healthy, natural ecosystems.

This transformation must be achieved over time but also in time.

No single country has the capacity to decisively shift the global energy base or land use patterns on its own.

To this end, policies need to be set in place now; technologies need to be developed, matured, commercialized, and deployed at scale; and the practices and behaviors of economic actors need to move ever faster toward low-emission and sustainable business and investment. In fact, the scenarios and trajectories assessed by the scientific community consider time frames up to the end of this century and take different assumptions in the way these are reached.

At the country level, the Paris Agreement further defines requirements specific to mitigation, adaptation, cooperation, transparency, and so on.

Two of these requirements are of particular importance in the context of this note: first, an invitation to all Parties to communicate long-term low greenhouse emission development strategies, and, second, a requirement to each Party to prepare, communicate, and maintain successive nationally determined contributions (NDCs).

These two mechanisms are mutually reinforcing: the long-term strategy provides a framework and direction for subsequent NDCs; at the same time, the increasingly ambitious NDCs are the means to achieve the long-term strategy. The requirement that Parties update their NDC or communicate a new one every five years provides the engine that will lead to progressively increasing ambition and avoid the impacts resulting from warming above 2°C.

These provisions constitute a clear signal to countries. While there is flexibility for governments to define climate action according to their development priorities and capacities, the global emissions trajectory would require that all increase ambition over time and that, eventually, they balance their emission and removals. In other words, the direction of travel established by the Paris Agreement foresees a future where the atmosphere sees no additional greenhouse gas emissions and, therefore, all countries must work in this direction.  It is in this context where long term strategies become an essential tool for addressing climate change.

From an international standpoint, long-term strategies provide credibility and certainty to the Paris Agreement that its goals can be achieved. They also increase transparency and enhance trust among nations as each Party demonstrates a determination to work toward emissions neutrality and encourages others to follow suit. On the firm basis of positive reciprocity of action, long-term strategies constitute an ideal tool for governments to communicate their determination to address climate change to other countries that require this information to assess their level of engagement.

From a national perspective, these strategies are fundamental, as they guide the short- and medium-term perspectives of political and economic cycles and provide political certainty for bold and concrete action by economic actors. At the same time, they provide the flexibility required for countries to pursue a route that does not compromise their development and poverty eradication goals, all while enabling them to transform their economies.

A few countries have already responded to an invitation by the Conference of the Parties (COP) to communicate midcentury strategies, with 2050 as a reference year. Most of these countries have translated their long-term vision into a quantified goal expressed as a percentage reduction, which in the case of Germany consists of a reduction of up to 95 percent below 1990 levels by 2050. While not being a mandatory law, this quantified goal enables Germany to pursue emissions neutrality step by step and across its political cycles. It encourages different segments of government, now and in the future, to continuously look for options to reduce emissions with the expectation that each will deliver enough action to reach this reduction of 95 percent.

However, long-term strategies can and must include future greenhouse gas avoidance goals, as well as direct reductions of existing emissions in an economy. Countries interested in bringing a vision of a future free of emissions could express it, for example, in terms of a clean energy matrix, a modern transport system that uses only electric vehicles, or mandates to sustainably manage landscapes and reverse deforestation. What is important for long-term strategies is that they convey an unambiguous signal to economic actors; that they provide flexibility for these actors to conform to the best of their ability to the set vision; that they are realistic; that they reflect the long-term aspirations of all sectors of society; that they are compatible with the political cycles and any changes brought in by midterm priorities; and, ultimately, that they effectively guide the country as rapidly as possible along the path to balancing its emissions and removals.

In thinking about the future, governments will undoubtedly need to address questions such as the following:

• How will the country meet its energy needs?

• How will it feed a growing population?

• How will it address transport problems?

• How will it balance social and economic aspirations?

Preventing the impacts of warming above 2°C will be impossible unless countries incorporate climate considerations when answering these questions. Given that transforming economies is a process that takes years, long-term strategies become a main policy tool for delivering this transformation. The vision enshrined in the long-term strategy must transcend political cycles and go beyond the interests of groups and individuals by bringing societies together.

The Paris Agreement and its objective is one such vision for the globe.

1 Article 2 further specifies that such a level should be achieved within a time frame sufficient to allow ecosystems to adapt naturally to climate change, to ensure that food production is not threatened, and to enable economic development to proceed in a sustainable manner.

All the interpretations and findings set forth in this expert perspective are those of the author alone.

Press link for more: World Resources Institute

“Focusing on #CleanEnergy alone is a like drug addiction” #ClimateChange #auspol #qldpol #StopAdani

Former Filipina diplomat and veteran climate negotiator and current co-chair of the Standing Committee on Finance for UNFCCC.

Bernaditas has been lead negotiator for the Phillipines for many years including during COP 21.

Bernarditas de Castro Muller

The road to Paris started in Montreal, Canada in December 2005, at the first meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC, referred to in this paper as the “Convention”). Eight years after its adoption, the Kyoto Protocol finally entered into force when Russia ratified it. However, the United States, one of the biggest emitters of historical emissions, although a signatory to the Protocol, did not submit it for ratification. Canada, as host Government, then initiated a process called “long-term cooperative action” for all Parties to the Convention. It was agreed that this process would not lead to negotiations.

Two years later, in 2007, it did however lead to negotiations under the “Bali Road Map” (COP 13), made up of two parallel negotiating processes. One was the process started in 2005 to negotiate the subsequent, later limited only to the second, commitment periods under the Kyoto Protocol, and the other leading to long-term cooperative action among all Parties to the Convention, with an uncertain “outcome with legal effect”. The understanding was that both the Kyoto Protocol and Convention processes would be finalized together. The Bali COP was also the start of the dismantling of an open, transparent and inclusive multilateral negotiating process.

In 2009, foot dragging by developed country Parties still did not result in agreement on the Kyoto Protocol process, but Annex I (annexes are based on levels of responsibilities for historical emissions) countries’ efforts were concentrated to endorse a “Copenhagen Accord” negotiated by a selected group of countries. It was claimed that the failure of Copenhagen was the failure of the multilateral process, but in reality it is quite the opposite. It was because the multilateral process was not followed that Copenhagen was a dismal failure. After a year, however, the core provisions of the Copenhagen Accord, in particular as concerns climate finance, were integrated into the Cancun Agreements, again a result of an unclear, undefined and limited “consultation” process.

Still another year, in 2011, a process called the Durban Platform, was started, still with an uncertain legal outcome. It marked the start of another, more limited, non-transparent, decision-making process called the “huddle”. At the same time, the Kyoto Protocol, now limited to a “second commitment period”, had to wait another year before the Doha amendment was adopted in 2012, overcoming difficulties among Annex I Parties. The Doha amendment still has not entered into force, as of this writing, and is not likely to do so.

The Durban process went ahead full steam, built on this mountain of broken agreements, and again, through a series of consultations, resulted in the Paris Agreement.

Most of the Western-dominated world media hailed the adoption of the Paris Agreement in December 2015 as a milestone in climate negotiations. The few dissenting voices, mainly from developing countries, were left unheard and unheeded. Responsible minds from both developed and developing world did point out that the Agreement, meant to replace the only legal regime governing climate change, the Convention and its Kyoto Protocol, is still far from providing a viable solution to the increasingly urgent problem of climate change and its adverse effects.

As in Cancun in 2010, the final result was adopted by applause, drowning out the objections of Nicaragua, not even acknowledging its raised flag. But even after going overtime, France did not want anything to block a “success” in Paris. It did however hold up the final meeting to adopt the Agreement to address the objections of the United States over the use of the word “shall” that would imply its agreement to a legally binding requirement on economy-wide absolute emission reduction targets for developed countries. This would mean a “new commitment” that would require US congressional approval for the Agreement, something that would definitely spell the end of a “universal agreement” in Paris. The host country obliged, gaveling through the agreement, and a compliant secretariat lamely admitted a “technical” glitch, albeit a glaring one, on such an important document.

In effect, therefore, there are no enhanced commitments from developed country Parties for further emissions limitations, but developing country Parties were pressured into putting on the table their “intended nationally-determined contributions” (INDCs), many determined with assistance and funding from developed countries with the use of their own consultants.

It was only after extremely difficult discussions that adaptation actions have been accepted as contributions of developing countries. However, these adaptation efforts still need to be recognized “in accordance with modalities to be adopted” by the governing body of the Agreement. Adaptation actions have become imperative for developing countries to enable them to undertake strong mitigation actions but remain woefully underfunded under the Convention, and are likely to remain so under this new Agreement. Practically no links with financing for adaptation feature in the Paris Agreement.

The Paris Agreement is essentially a compilation of pledges from all Parties to the Convention to limit emissions, and a review of these pledges. The purpose of the Agreement is to hold the increase of global average temperature to “well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels” and “to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5°C above the pre-industrial levels”. Developing countries have held on to the limit of 1.5°C since the negotiations prior to the Paris Agreement process, even as the prospect of ever keeping to this limit dims with each COP. It must likewise be recognized that a “global mean” would imply much higher increases in temperature in different regions, in particular in Africa and the developing world.

Since however, all Parties to the Convention have taken emission limitation commitments, the Paris Agreement is deemed by many to be universal in nature. As of this writing (February 2018), not all Parties to the Convention and signatories to the Paris Agreement have ratified it. Studies have shown that the current pledges are not enough to meet the purpose of the Paris Agreement, and that the pledges of developing countries go far beyond their “fair share” of responsibilities for addressing climate change.

The overall effect of the Paris Agreement is a weakening of commitments of developed country Parties under the Convention, a shift of these commitments to include developing country Parties, without any certainty of predictable and accessible financial resources to developing countries. All of these “national contributions” are then subject to review, previously limited only to developed country Parties under the Convention. There still remains no agreement as to the scope of a “national contribution.”

The Agreement is particularly weakened in terms of the legal obligations of developed country Parties, especially those with the highest responsibilities for historical emissions, on the provision of financial resources, including for the transfer of technology, to developing country Parties. The provision of financial resources have been extended, albeit as a voluntary action, to “other Parties”, and such actions, also voluntarily to be reported accordingly. Developed country Parties “should” continue to take the lead in “mobilizing” finance, “as part of a global effort”, and “from a wide variety of sources, instruments and channels.” This is far removed from the legal commitments under the Convention. Accessibility and predictability of financing, essential for long-term climate action, remain the main hurdles for financing for developing countries.

A great majority of developing countries’ NDCs are made conditional on the provision of financial resources, including for technology and capacity-building. This is in full accordance with obligations under the Convention. The Agreement however provides no certainty that these financial resources shall be provided. Objections even were raised by developed country Parties to a clear definition of what constitutes climate finance, leaving them free to call climate financing whatever suits their objectives.

On loss and damage, even while the developing countries’ call for a separate article specifically on this issue was reflected, there remain no links on financing. It was even specified in the accompanying decisions that the Article in the Agreement “does not involve or provide a basis for any liability or compensation.” A tenuous link to financing is provided in the Article dealing with technology development and transfer, in terms of a periodic assessment of the ”adequacy of support” tempered however by the need likewise to determine its “effectiveness”, a condition of results-based financing practiced by existing multilateral financing institutions.

It is significant that no Annexes exist under the new Agreement. Under the Convention, Annexes are based on the degree of responsibilities for historical emissions that resulted in concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, causing climate change. Only “developed” and “developing” countries are mentioned in the Agreement, for which there is no internationally agreed definition. The way is then open for shifts in the categorization of Parties depending on their “national circumstances”, as may be determined under the Agreement. Despite the reference to the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities, a core principle of the Convention, differentiation is all but erased under the new Agreement.

There remain possibilities for developing countries to strengthen provisions on financing and technology under the decisions taken by the COP for the period leading for the implementation of the Agreement. Among them are the recognition of needs-based financing, and the start of a process to identify the “qualitative and quantitative information” to be provided by developed country Parties on financial resources to be provided to developing country Parties.” It is then incumbent upon developing countries to identify their financing and technology needs and to translate their NDCs into quantified financial resources and required access to technologies.

These, however, would not suffice. The Paris Agreement is on enhanced implementation of the Convention. We cannot afford to wait until the full implementation of this Agreement to act, and that would be way too late. Each country should continue to undertake strong adaptation and mitigation actions as they have done since the entry into force of the Convention, but now with added urgency. All are affected by an increasing number of extreme weather events. Science tells us that even if all emissions cease immediately, the adverse effects of current changes will still have to be dealt with for decades to come.

What has been sorely lacking in the current dialogue on climate change is a serious pursuit of sustainable development, in particular changes in consumption patterns, and a development pathway that will not repeat the mistakes of the past which led to climate change. Sustainable development is one of the three essential parameters in the objective of the Convention, together with food security and adaptation.

Armed conflicts exacerbate the adverse effects of climate change. Spikes in emissions in the past resulted from world wars. There are no efforts at this time even to recognize and account for emissions arising from the conflicts.

Focusing on the pursuit of renewable sources of energy alone can be likened to a drug addict looking for fixes to feed its addiction. What is more important is to cure the addiction. And as we all know, this is most difficult to achieve.

There are signs that this is happening, mainly from the grassroots, and not from governments and decision-makers. Changes in food consumption patterns, less waste, less use of synthetic materials, and more recycling. Climate actions that have been dictated by uncertain economic assumptions must now look more towards social and environmental dimensions of the problem. For much too long, we were led into thinking that poverty caused environmental degradation. But now we know that it is wealth, and the pursuit of more wealth that is causing our inability to meet the challenge of climate change and its adverse effects.

__________________________

(I wrote this paper based mainly on my experience gained through long years of negotiating multilateral environmental agreements, especially on climate change. For many of those years, I have listened to Group of 77 countries, as their coordinator on many issues of negotiations, in particular on climate finance. I alone assume the responsibility of what is written in this paper.)

May 2018

Richard Branson: #ClimateChange is the greatest business opportunity #auspol #qldpol #StopAdani

Richard Branson

I remember December 2015 well. The UN Climate Conference in Paris (COP 21) marked one of those rare occasions when humanity rose above its divisions and found common ground knowing it is facing a challenge so momentous no country can tackle it on its own. I cannot think of many threats to our survival on this planet that require a greater degree of collaboration than climate change. But as a relentless optimist, I also cannot imagine a greater opportunity for growth and prosperity, if we get things right.

To be honest, our mission has only just begun, and meeting the Paris goal of stabilising global average temperature increases well below 2 degrees Celsius will take much courage and bold decision-making. But back then, during those long Paris evenings, I sensed a spirit of people coming together in ways that I had rarely seen before.

Of course, the climate treaty didn’t happen over night. Year after year, previous climate conferences had raised high expectations and hopes for a political breakthrough. I remember travelling to COP 15 in Copenhagen in 2009, thinking that this might be the moment when government leaders finally rise to the challenge, set aside their disagreements and chart a course forward. But Copenhagen didn’t live up to its ambitions; negotiators didn’t seal the deal; and subsequent UN Climate Conferences didn’t do any better. It was a toxic stew of misinformation, misaligned priorities, political posturing and outright denial that seemed to push a solution farther and farther out of reach.

So what made Paris so different and unique? For one, the outcome showed what humanity can achieve with the right mindset and the will to collaborate. I will never forget the sense of urgency that had gripped everyone I met in those hallways and conference rooms. From Presidents to diplomats, from ministers to activists and business leaders – everyone rolled up their sleeves, not resting until a solution had been found and agreed on. It felt as if the frustrations of previous years had triggered an untiring determination not to fail this time. Not again.

Reaching consensus on the proper course of action was not a trivial undertaking. The Paris Agreement was the culmination of decades of research, one of the most comprehensive scientific projects the international community had ever undertaken. The Inter-governmental Panel of Climate Change, also known as the IPCC, had produced study after study, assessment after assessment underscoring the overwhelming scientific consensus that humans were at the centre of greenhouse gas emissions warming the planet. Science had given us clear and irrefutable evidence. We all knew what was at stake. We also had a pretty clear idea of what needed to be done – by governments, by businesses, by people across the world.

The political challenge was a complex one. How do you balance the interests of developed and industrialised economies with those who are growing at rapid pace, hoping to lift their populations out of poverty and into prosperity? How do you mediate between top carbon emitters and those countries where the impacts of our emissions are felt the most? I had to think of the Maldives and other island nations that face an existential threat from rising sea levels. I was reminded of the beautiful African nations suffering from soil erosion, water scarcity or rapidly progressing desertification. Millions of people live on the frontlines of climate impacts threatening their livelihoods and their lives. And yet most of them contribute only marginally to global emissions. Would their interests be protected? Could their communities be saved?

As I see it, the Paris Agreement is a masterpiece in international diplomacy, and much credit is due to the brilliant Christiana Figueres, who led UNFCCC and many of these complex negotiations with such instinct, acuity and a good dose of humour, too. I don’t think we would have seen quite the same outcome, if it hadn’t been for Christiana’s quiet diplomacy and her not-so-quiet advocacy. She truly was the North Star guiding the process. She was also a master at collaboration. She had worked closely with the B Team leaders every step of the way to ensure that it was not just political voices at the table, but also business leaders who could help encourage and give ground cover to courageous country leaders. It will be years before we come to fully appreciate the key role she has played in this, setting a shining example for generations to come about the importance of collaboration in our increasingly interconnected and complex world.

Could the outcome have been bolder, more ambitious? Of course. Some have pointed out that climate change is progressing far more rapidly than we thought just two years ago. But the political and economic race against climate change is a marathon, not a sprint. Change is incremental. Paris accomplished what seemed impossible just a decade ago. It’s a giant leap from the Kyoto Protocol. Who is to say we cannot make another leap soon?

But there’s another outcome of Paris that gives me hope. If the global community can reach a consensus on an issue as complex as climate, however fragile that consensus may be, it surely says a lot about our capacity to tackle other issues. In this sense, the Paris Agreement was a wonderful source of inspiration and uplift. I spend a good amount of my time these days lobbying and advocating for positive change on issues I feel deeply about. One of those issues is drug policy reform, where progress has been sluggish, as governments around the world drag their feet while continuing to support the so-called war on drugs – an epic, multi-decade failure that has killed millions and wasted billions in taxpayer funds. While the issue is not quite the same as climate change, the dynamics of the international debate feel similar: biases, short-term obsessions, populism and confrontation on one side; evidence, long-term thinking, rational debate and cooperation on the other. That’s perhaps the greatest lesson I take away from Paris: where the latter prevails, everything is possible.

One final thought: The US withdrawal from the Paris agreement doesn’t worry me even half as much as it might worry others. As an investor and entrepreneur, I know that climate action in its multiple forms represents one of the greatest business opportunities the world has ever seen. In other words, the clean energy revolution is well underway, and President Trump’s announcement won’t stop this train.

May 2018

Press link for more: Profiles of Paris

How Much The World Could Save if We Halted Global Warming at 1.5 Degrees? #auspol #qldpol #StopAdani

This Is How Much The World Could Save if We Halted Global Warming at 1.5 Degrees

Climate inaction costs a lot.

The Paris climate accord’s goal is to keep global temperatures “well under” 2 degrees Celsius, and 1.5 degrees Celsius if possible.

Now, a new study reveals that if we can achieve that lower target, it could save the world tens of trillions of dollars over the next 80 years.

These savings take into account things like the price of storms becoming more intense and more frequent, the price of agricultural yields beginning to slip and the price of negative public health consequences.

“Achieving the more ambitious Paris goals is highly likely to benefit most countries—and the global economy overall—by avoiding more severe economic damage,” said the study’s senior author Noah Diffenbaugh, a professor at Stanford University.

In fact, over the course of the century, a world where temperatures are kept to 1.5 degrees would generate $20 trillion more in GDP than a world where temperatures are kept to 2 degrees.

Even better, the economic benefits from fighting climate change will be felt the world over. The study has found that four-fifths of all countries and 90 percent of the global population will benefit from avoiding the costs of higher temperatures.

However, there are some economies that could suffer. These include the economies of Russia, Canada, the Nordic and Baltic nations, and central Europe.

The researchers were able to calculate this by studying how economic performances have been linked to global temperatures historically.

They then used climate models to predict how economic output would likely change in the future if the global temperature was 1.5 degrees warmer, 2 degrees warmer or 3 degrees warmer.

On our current trajectory, the world is headed towards the 3 degree mark by 2100. If nothing is done to stop this scenario, the study found it will likely lower economic output by up to 25 percent come the end of the century.

But as groundbreaking as this study is, there are limitations.

“GDP is a useful metric to assess the benefits of limiting global warming,” said Wolfram Schlenker, a professor at the Columbia University’s Earth Institute, who was not involved in the study.

Still, predicted impacts of global warming would be even greater, he said, “if the non-market benefits of reduced fossil-fuel use—for human health and ecosystems, for example—were considered.”

In other words, this study is a conservative estimate because it does not comprehensively consider the money that would be saved from improved global health and healthy ecosystems.

The study’s estimates are made even more conservative by the fact that it does not take into account the acceleration of melting ice sheets or sea level rise in the coming years.

Furthermore, the study may also underestimate the costs associated with shifting to a low-carbon global economy that would be needed to actually achieve the 1.5 degree target.

After all, scientists are skeptical that we can even achieve the 2 degree target let alone the 1.5 degree target. To achieve 1.5 degrees, we might have to pull excess CO2 out of the air – a technology that has still not yet been developed.

“The results should be interpreted with caution,” said Bob Ward, policy director at the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment in London.

“They have not taken into account the additional costs of reducing emissions to meet the stronger [1.5 degree] target, which could be substantial, particularly if negative emissions technologies are needed.”

The study has been published in Nature.

Press link for more Scienceaf.com

April Was The 400th Straight Hotter Than Average Month #auspol #qldpol #ClimateChange #StopAdani

Global Warming Exhibit A: April Was The 400th Straight Hotter Than Average Month

Trevor Nace

Puppy pug dog on a very hot day.

Like A Virgin by Madonna was top in the music charts last time Earth had a colder than average month. Last April marked 400 consecutive months where our planet’s temperature was hotter than average, a record stretching back to December of 1984.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) announced the milestone recently, confirming that we are unequivocally living on a warming planet. The governmental agency notes that while another warming milestone has been reached, the signs have been clear for decades.

Professors, government scientists, independent agencies, and industry scientists all use the 20th-century average as the benchmark from which they compare today’s temperatures. This ensures people around the world are using the same temperatures as a baseline.

While there is cyclicity in climate and hence average global temperatures, the consistent and prolonged degree to which Earth has been on the hotter spectrum makes it clear there are external factors at play. When comparing long-term historical records, it is clear there is a warming trend.

Air and water temperature since 1950 compared to average baseline.

Governmental agencies have all agreed, the warming trend seen in recent decades is mainly due to humans emitting greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide. Acting like a blanket placed over Earth, increased concentrations of carbon dioxide warm the planet by trapping in heat. The simple physics can be easily replicated by at home experiments and has been confirmed thousands of times in studies across the world.

Oil companies, professors, a wide array of industries, and governmental agencies around the world have all agreed that Earth is warming and the primary cause is from humans. However, hydrocarbons remain a vital component in global energy systems, especially for developing countries without the means or technology to implement widespread renewables.

Europe just had its warmest April in recorded history and we saw extreme heat waves with southern Pakistan reaching 122.4 degrees Fahrenheit on April 30th. Looking at the other side of the same coin, carbon dioxide levels just reached 410 parts per million, higher than it has been in the past 800,000 years.

As temperatures continue to rise, they do so disproportionately in higher latitudes. We’ve seen significantly more warming in the Arctic and Antarctica than in the tropics, leading to more ice melted and higher sea levels. While humans are not significantly impacted by the warming temperatures, they produce an array of issues elsewhere. Here are just a few ways a changing climate will impact humans indirectly.

• Many animals and plants require specific temperature ranges to survive, making extinction much more likely.

• Humans rely on consistent weather patterns to know where to grow crops and where to live. A changing climate and disproportional high latitude warming will change rainfall patterns. This leads to multi-year droughts in populated areas, floods in previously dry regions, and lack of rain in once fertile farmland.

• Warming high latitudes melt ice, causing the sea level to rise. This exacerbates flooding in low lying and coastal cities, especially so during storms or hurricanes.

In the case for a warming planet, the past is the key to the future and by all accounts, the planet will continue to change at unprecedented rates.

Press link for more: Forbes.com

Exxon pledges to slash greenhouse gas emissions #auspol #qldpol #ClimateChange #StopAdani

Exxon pledges to slash greenhouse gas emissions

Matt Egan

ExxonMobil, a frequent target of climate activists, is pledging to significantly reduce its greenhouse gas emissions.

The world’s largest public oil company on Wednesday detailed plans to cut methane emissions by 15% by 2020. Methane is a powerful greenhouse gas that scientists blame for contributing to global warming.

Exxon (XOM) further pledged to cut flaring by 25%, led by significant reductions at the company’s operations in West Africa. Flaring, the burning of excess natural gas at oil wells, is a significant source of greenhouse gas emissions.

Exxon CEO Darren Woods described the methane announcement as part of the company’s “longstanding commitment to improve efficiency and mitigate greenhouse gas emissions.”

Operational improvements, including efforts to detect and repair leaks, have already cut methane emissions by 2% over the past year, Exxon said. Future programs to cut greenhouse gas emissions will target Exxon’s refining and chemical manufacturing facilities.

Related: Why Exxon isn’t enjoying America’s big oil party

The move follows years of climate pressure on Exxon from shareholders, climate activists and governments. Major cities including San Francisco and New York have recently filed lawsuits demanding Exxon and other oil companies pay billions to cover the costs of protesting their cities from rising sea levels caused by global warming.

Andrew Logan, director of the oil and gas industry program at sustainability nonprofit Ceres, said Exxon’s methane emission pledge is a “good start,” but “pales in comparison with the ambition” required for a low-carbon energy transition.

Logan’s group has for years been pressuring oil companies to address methane emissions.

“Addressing methane emissions is one of the cheapest, most effective ways to address climate change in the short term,” he said.

The International Energy Agency recently said the energy industry could use existing technology to slash its methane emissions by 75%. And the IEA said that 40% to 50% of current methane emissions could be avoided at no net cost.

Related: America’s biggest oilfield is running out of pipeline

Exxon’s announcement comes just a week before it faces shareholders at its annual meeting. Exxon lost a major climate change battle at last year’s meeting when shareholders backed a nonbinding proposal calling for the company to disclose the risk it faces from the global crackdown on carbon emissions. Following the rebuke, Exxon agreed to “further enhance” its disclosures on climate change in the near future.

Exxon has also been accused of downplaying what it knew about the risks of climate change. A Harvard University study published last year found that for nearly 40 years Exxon “misled the public” on the growing threat of climate change. Exxon is being investigated by New York and Massachusetts over allegations it concealed climate change risks to the public and shareholders.

The methane emissions pledge “reflects the increasing pressure these companies, including Exxon, are under to reduce their carbon footprint,” said Brian Youngberg, senior energy analyst at Edward Jones.

Other major US oil companies have talked about the importance of reducing methane emissions. ConocoPhillips (COP), the largest emitter of methane among US oil and gas companies, details on its website a program aimed at using existing technology to cut emissions.

Major European oil companies have gone further than their US rivals on the climate change issue. BP (BP), Shell (RDSA) and Total (TOT) have all made significant investments in renewable energy, including solar, wind and electric charging facilities.

Rather than transforming the nature of its business, Exxon is pledging to make its existing operations cleaner.

“It’s not a revolution. It’s an evolution,” said Pavel Molchanov, a Raymond James energy analyst.

CNNMoney (New York) First published May 24, 2018: 1:49 PM ET

Press link for more: Money.cnn.com

Govts Taking Up Carbon Pricing See Big Benefits in Revenues. #auspol #qldpol #StopAdani #ClimateChange

More Governments Taking Up Carbon Pricing and Seeing Big Benefits in Revenues: World Bank Report

In 2017, Governments Raised About $33 Billion In Carbon Pricing Revenue, a 50% increase from 2016

Frankfurt, May 22, 2018 – Governments at national and subnational levels around the world continue to prepare for, and implement, carbon pricing initiatives as a means to curb their emissions while raising revenues, a new World Bank report finds.

Launched at the Innovate4Climate conference in Frankfurt, the annual State and Trends of Carbon Pricing 2018 report shows that carbon pricing continues to gain traction. This edition of the report also includes emerging trends as countries negotiate the guidelines of the Paris Agreement, in the run-up to the 24th Conference of the Parties (COP24) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

To date, 70 jurisdictions (45 national and 25 sub-national) have implemented, or are scheduled to implement, carbon pricing initiatives. These mechanisms helped governments raise about $33 billion in 2017 in carbon pricing revenues from allowance auctions, direct payments to meet compliance obligations, and carbon tax receipts. This represents a 50% increase compared to the US$22 billion raised in 2016.

Implementation of carbon pricing initiatives has tripled in the past decade. In 2016 and 2017, this increase was primarily driven by jurisdictions in the Americas, including Chile, Colombia, the Canadian provinces of Alberta and Ontario, and the U.S. states of California, Massachusetts and Washington. But other regions are also active. In December 2017, China announced its plan to operationalize its national emissions trading system (ETS) in phases, starting with the power sector.

With a fully operational Chinese ETS, carbon pricing mechanisms around the world are projected to cover 11 gigatons of carbon dioxide equivalent (GtCO2e), or about 20 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions, up from 15 percent last year. The report also finds that carbon prices are rising, with about half of emissions now covered by carbon pricing initiatives priced at over US$10/tCO2e, compared to one-quarter of emissions covered in 2017.

“Governments at all levels are starting to see the effectiveness of carbon pricing in their efforts to cut harmful carbon pollution while also raising revenues for climate and other policies, including environmental action,” said John Roome, World Bank Senior Director for Climate Change. “As countries take stock of their Paris Agreement commitments and set a path towards increased ambition, carbon pricing mechanisms with robust pricing levels are proving to be essential elements of the toolkit.”

The report also highlights emerging trends in carbon pricing, including the growing prominence of efforts in Asia and the Americas, the use of carbon pricing initiatives to serve multiple environmental and social objectives, and the adoption of phased approaches to make changes as initiatives progress. The report also notes the rise of innovative tools and technologies, as well as momentum to divest from fossil fuels – factors that have played a role in the advancement of carbon pricing initiatives.

The report is launched today at the Innovate4Climate (I4C) conference – the World Bank Group’s flagship annual event on climate finance, investment and markets which brings together global business, policy and finance leaders to discuss innovative climate finance solutions.

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This work is a product of the World Bank, with support from Ecofys, a Navigant Company, as well as from the Carbon Pricing Leadership Coalition, CDP, Climate Transparency, the Institute for Climate Economics, the International Climate Action Partnership and the Partnership for Market Readiness.

To download the full report visit: https://openknowledge.worldbank.org/bitstream/handle/10986/29687/9781464812927.pdf and to access the series, go to: https://openknowledge.worldbank.org/handle/10986/29687

In May 2017, the World Bank launched the Carbon Pricing Dashboard website, adding an interactive dimension to the annual State and Trends of Carbon Pricing reports. This resource provides an up-to-date overview of carbon pricing initiatives and allows users to navigate through the visuals and data of the report. Please visit: https://carbonpricingdashboard.worldbank.org/

Press link for more: The World Bank

World’s Top Ten Climate Influencers #auspol #qldpol #StopAdani

1.

Mark Ruffalo

@markruffalo

2.

Elon Musk

@elonmusk

3.

Leonardo DiCaprio

@leodicaprio

4.

Al Gore

@algore

5.

Climate Reality

@climatereality

6.

Tesla

@tesla

7.

David Roberts

@drvox

8=

EcoWatch

@ecowatch

8=

John Pratt

@jackthelad1947

10.

Bill McKibben

@billmckibben

Proud to be in the Top Ten Climate Influencers globally.

Press Link for top 500 Rise.Global

In the years I have been writing this blog, using Twitter & Facebook to get the climate change message out, I didn’t ever dream I would be in such esteemed company.

Thanks to everyone that has joined me on this journey to change the world.

We will create a future for our children and future generations that is sustainable and equitable.

Standing with Bill McKibben and John Rumney in Port Douglas recently.